The Daily Telegraph

With Truss like a zombie, today we learnt who’s really running Britain

- By Tim Stanley

As the sun shone over the banana republic of Great Britain (yes, we have no bananas, but we are governed by a lovely bunch of coconuts), citizens gathered round their TV sets for an emergency broadcast by Jeremy Hunt – our fourth chancellor in as many minutes. “Turn it up,” said mother.

“It is turned up,” I replied, “he’s just very, very quiet.”

That soft voice, those intense eyes – Matt Hancock later described El Chanceller­o as “ironclad fiscal” discipline “in a very velvety glove”.

He demonstrat­ed that reading from a sheet of paper is more authoritat­ive than reading from an autocue (the latter makes a politician look like they’re handing out Oscars), and if only Kwasi had delivered such a reassuring televised statement before or after his own budget, he might still be in office. But then he was too busy shredding orthodoxie­s. Now Jeremy shredded him. Adios, tax cuts. Hola, austerity.

“A central responsibi­lity for any Government is to do what is necessary for economic stability,” he said. That was when the real chaos began.

Labour asked a question: what the Hell is going on?! The person it was addressed to was Liz Truss, still the official face of the regime, yet at 3.30pm, it wasn’t her at the Despatch Box but Penny Mordaunt. “I’m afraid you’ll have to do with me,” she joked.

In fact, Mordaunt gave one of the most impressive performanc­es – like watching a drowning woman conduct Brahms – listing Labour’s own U-turns to cheers from the Tory benches. What an “enormous asset” you are, said Alberto Costa, which translates from the original toadying as “You should be PM!” Indeed, this was an audition, and the better she got, the more noticeable Truss’s absence was. This led to some bizarre accusation­s and surreal denials. There has not been a coup, she told one Labour MP. She is not “hiding under a desk,” she told another. Then where is she? Taking care of “very serious matters”, Penny insisted. This triggered a run on the imaginatio­n.

“Is she on her way to the palace?” asked an MP. Suddenly, Truss was in the Chamber – for the Chancellor’s statement at 4.30. The Prime Minister walked like a zombie. She resembled Soviet leader Konstanin Chernenko, when they pumped him full of drugs and dragged him out his hospital bed to vote in a fake election. She sat next to Hunt, her face immobile.

A few rows back, Theresa May could not contain a smile.

Mr Hunt revealed that we are now run by something called the Economic Advisory Council, which contains graduates of Blackrock and JP Morgan. Mel Stride MP said that he hoped it would not challenge the Bank or the OBR but work with them, which, haha, I feel sure it will.

Sir Edward Leigh asked “what is our vision?” If the goal is merely to manage decline, “what is the point of the Conservati­ve Party?”

The answer, unstated, is the one every junta gives. To stay in power as long as humanly possible.

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